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Boat Improvement
by Jim Hendricks
SplitDecision
Grant Hendricks
"Preventive maintenance and boat-upgrade projects represent wise investments in your future fishing trips," says the author, seen here aboard the object of his crazy obsession, his fishing boat.

You probably know someone with a crazy obsession. Maybe it’s a neighbor who hoards old newspapers. Or your brother-in-law who is hooked on fantasy football. Or your aging Aunt Ida who decorates each room with dolls – their menacing eyes tracking you, even while you sleep.

Or perhaps, like many anglers, you have a crazy obsession of your own. I know I do. To paraphrase Forrest Gump, it’s my boat.

I’m preoccupied with ways to improve it, almost constantly implementing upgrades. For example, in the last six months alone, I have completely re-wired the battery system, installed an AIS receiver, networked the radar with a heading sensor, refinished the non-skid sole in the aft cockpit, installed a footrest at the helm, and bought a bigger anchor. The list goes on, including routine maintenance such as changing the engine oil and gear lube, replacing filters, oiling the teak, and fixing scratches in the gelcoat.

Even as I write, I’m contemplating new projects.

Fact is, I spend more time working on the boat than I do fishing aboard it -- at least four hours of boat work to one hour of fishing. However, lest you think I’m building something akin to a Winchester House afloat, I don’t believe I’m all that different than most serious boating anglers.

OK, maybe I’m a bit more obsessive, but the best captains I know take a huge amount of pride in their boats. And it’s not just about looking good or boasting about the latest high-tech gadgets. It’s about catching fish.

The way I look at it, once you’re out fishing, your boat is an island. And you want everything possible on your island to help you catch fish, whether it's the latest in broadband sonar or a slick new rack for organizing leader material. Plus, the last thing you need is a busted part like a dead battery, worn-out livewell pump or a leak in your hydraulic steering interferring with your precious fishing time or, worse yet, creating a safety issue.

That’s why I’m obsessive about boat improvement. It’s an investment in future fishing, my way of helping ensure that every minute spent on the water is as productive as possible for me and my crew. If that makes me sound as crazy as Aunt Ida, all I can say is that my boat doesn’t stare back.